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April 24, 2006 4:15 PM   Subscribe

Del Mar Community College in Corpus Christi has blocked all access to MySpace because it was 40% of all Internet usage. (Don't those students know about downloading bootleg MP3s?)
posted by Steven C. Den Beste (60 comments total)

 
I know that it's really popular, especially because it lets people create really huge "Who am I" pages with lots of pictures which are usually hosted elsewhere like on my damned server.

I finally got so fed up with it that I set up a .htaccess rule so that any attempt to load an image off my server from MySpace instead sent back a 1024*4096 GIF file that alternated blinking red and blue. It's painful to look at and "encouraged" MySpace users to edit their "Who Am I" pages to remove their links to my images.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 4:16 PM on April 24, 2006


Bleh I had something similiar when a friend hosted her blog template on my server, then it got ripped off by a bunch of people. Now they get nothing, thanks to mod_rewrite!
posted by beerbajay at 4:23 PM on April 24, 2006


I dunno, some of those little community colleges have tiny budgets and an IT dept of one guy and if instructors and professors can't even read their email due to the shared line being saturated with myspace requests, I could see banning it on the network to eliminate the bottleneck.
posted by mathowie at 4:24 PM on April 24, 2006


"It's our choice, we're the ones paying for our classes. If we pass or fail, it's up to us."

Except no one said they were doing it because it might cause you to fail. They did say it was eating up so much bandwidth it was slowing down their web-based instruction. When a social site that has nothing to do with the business of the college is used that widely and to that point that it is interfering with educational stuff... I think there's a good argument for blocking it.
posted by raedyn at 4:41 PM on April 24, 2006


When they banned FTP and Web servers because they accounted for the majority of bandwidth usage, I remained silent, because I did not run my own FTP and Web servers;

When they banned mp3 downloading because it accounted for the majority of bandwidth usage, I remained silent, because I did not download mp3s;

When they banned MySpace viewing because it accounted for the majority of bandwidth usage, I remained silent, because I did not have an account on MySpace;

When they banned Fark because those damn photoshop contests accounted for the majority of bandwidth usage, I remained silent, because I did not find them particularly hilarious;

When they banninated HomestarRunner because those flash movies accounted for the majority of bandwidth usage, I remained silent, because I thought Teen Girl Squad went downhill after episode three;

When they banned Internet access because it accounted for the majority of bandwidth usage, I spoke up, but only the people in my dorm room could hear me.

posted by davejay at 4:44 PM on April 24, 2006


I set up a .htaccess rule so that any attempt to load an image off my server from MySpace instead sent back a 1024*4096 GIF file that alternated blinking red and blue.

I believe the socially acceptable imagefile to use is goatse.
posted by mek at 4:50 PM on April 24, 2006


thank you, davejay. that ruled.
posted by tumult at 5:05 PM on April 24, 2006


Why is this news? Why is it here? Are we going to hear about every change in everyone's firewall rules?
posted by melt away at 5:05 PM on April 24, 2006


Good for them [the school].

Since when is un-metered, non-academic Internet access a prerequisite for dorm life?

I do wonder about the numbers, though. Forty percent seems high for essentially static web pages. Wouldn't P2P or streaming audio suck up much more bandwidth than compulsively reloading your MySpace page? I don't do MySpace but I've noticed it's on the news quite a bit lately (usually in the context of being a stalker/predator goldmine) and I wouldn't be surprised if this was more of a social concern to the Del Mar administration than a technical issue with the IT folks.
posted by cedar at 5:20 PM on April 24, 2006


Relax, kids, you've still got porn.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:42 PM on April 24, 2006


Hahaha. Del Mar. My dad graduated from there.

I wonder what his myspace profile would have looked like.
posted by motherfather at 5:42 PM on April 24, 2006


melt away writes "Are we going to hear about every change in everyone's firewall rules?"

Yes. Yes, we are. Metafilter is beginning a gradual transition to "Everyone's Firewall Rules Web Space: Your Place for Up-to-the-Minute News on Changes to Everyone's Firewall Rules". Got a change to your firewall rules? Post it to Everyone's Firewall Rules Web Space! The space on the web for changes to everyone's firewall rules.



Last week, I opened ports 16384-16403 for iChat videoconferencing!
posted by mr_roboto at 5:43 PM on April 24, 2006


Wouldn't P2P or streaming audio suck up much more bandwidth than compulsively reloading your MySpace page?

Don't most MySpace profiles have embedded streaming audio that restart with each refresh? Seems like every time I've gone to one there's been some indie rock song blaring and I've had to scramble to find the stop button. It's like MIDI music without the charming camp value.
posted by brundlefly at 5:48 PM on April 24, 2006


I have a MySpace page, but I don't get the whole phenomenon, to be honest. Everyone is 99 or a 100 years old and uses Thomas's MySpace Editor to make their pages illegibile, and everyone thinks I'm not already playing my own music on my computer and so has music I don't like blare at me when thier page loads, and everyone leaves nearly incomprehensible non sequiters in each other's comments.

Am I just old? Or is this what happens when you connect millions of bored teenagers to each other via social sofytware?
posted by eustacescrubb at 6:31 PM on April 24, 2006


Last week, I opened ports 16384-16403 for iChat videoconferencing!

And the number of admin blocks on the standard Bittorrent ports have caused me to reassign them on my own firewall and client to ports 10000-10002.

Now my downloads of GSN's 'High Stakes Poker' just fly down the wire.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:35 PM on April 24, 2006


Last week, I opened ports 16384-16403 for iChat videoconferencing!

And yesterday, I injected a trojan through port 16401! Thanks, MetaFirewall!
posted by davejay at 6:46 PM on April 24, 2006


Del Mar Community College in Corpus Christi has blocked all access to MySpace

Good. Now when is the U.S. government going to do the same? Burn it alll down and salt the servers!
posted by dgaicun at 6:56 PM on April 24, 2006


I don't get MySpace, either. I have a profile, but only because people kept pestering me to make one. I feel like I've surrendered, or something. I only go there when someone adds me as a friend. I accept, then maybe send a message saying "Hi," then log out as fast as I can.

One thing I'll give it is that I've been contacted by several high school friends via MySpace, which is nice. If they had Googled me, they would have found me easily, but I guess they just think differently. It's kind of sad that all these folks with access to the internet have limited themselves to this one site. Kind of, I dunno, defeats the purpose.
posted by brundlefly at 7:11 PM on April 24, 2006


This is a community collage, which I would assume does not have dorms.

That means their blocking traffic to the computers in the classroom, which are supposed to be used for classwork, not dorm computers which are meant to be used for personal use.
posted by Paris Hilton at 7:15 PM on April 24, 2006


I do wonder about the numbers, though. Forty percent seems high for essentially static web pages. Wouldn't P2P or streaming audio suck up much more bandwidth than compulsively reloading your MySpace page?

It's also a lot of embedded audio, video, Flash and jpegs. Not to mention the hazards of cross-site scripting.

We banned MySpace at the campus I do IT work for months ago, for bandwidth and security reasons, not to mention attention spans.

I remember the hour we blocked MySpace upstream, too. Had about a dozen students in person at my helpdesk asking "is the internet down? I can't get to MySpace!!" within minutes. "MySpace is blocked. Aren't you supposed to be doing homework/taking a test/researching a paper?"

"Uhm... yeah. I guess. Can you unblock it? Just for a minute? I need to message my friend."

"Nope. I don't have access, and even if I did, I wouldn't and couldn't. Suffer. Do your schoolwork. Damnit."
posted by loquacious at 7:18 PM on April 24, 2006


brundlefly, unless there's a couple other filmmakers in Berkley who like the nickname 'blacksundae' I'm guessing your black background and myspace blog entries indicate a little more involvement in the site.

Honestly though I find myspace facinating. Yes, 99% of the pages are butt ugly, and trying to wrestle myspace's horrible, horrible HTML into something nice takes a lot of time. But you can find so many things. It really is a place where you can just click on links all day, and always find something new. And virtually everyone has a profile on the site.

It's just a shame that the people who run it don't seem to realize the potential of what they have (they could start by using web standards...) Ah well.
posted by Paris Hilton at 7:21 PM on April 24, 2006


Wow, students must really enjoy going to your school...
posted by Paris Hilton at 7:22 PM on April 24, 2006


Paris Hilton: Ha! I'm caught! I started the damn thing, was overcome by the uglyness of the interface and found something to try to make it prettier. It didn't work. It's stil ugly. Notice that there are three blog posts. I was talked into it, blogged a couple of times, then got disgusted with it and ignored it.

I really wouldn't have as big a problem with it if it weren't so hard to navigate. Why can't people latch onto a networking sight that is well-designed?
posted by brundlefly at 7:30 PM on April 24, 2006


I support this measure. When my sister comes over, she spends all her time using myspace on my computer. I wish she would be set free and allowed to discover the rest of the internet.
posted by Citizen Premier at 8:02 PM on April 24, 2006


Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't MySpace basically blogging for those people too slow to figure out LiveJournal? I mean, what the hell is the point?

God damn kids these days.

*puffs on pipe, ruffles newspaper*
posted by fet at 8:06 PM on April 24, 2006


Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't MySpace basically blogging for those people too slow to figure out LiveJournal? I mean, what the hell is the point?

I think you just answered your own question.
posted by brundlefly at 8:16 PM on April 24, 2006


HOW STUPID ARE PEOPLE THOUGH?!? The damn site makes Friendster and Orkut look like the Oxford English Dictionary.

DIDN'T WE SURVIVE GEOCITIES AND THEGLOBE ONCE ALREADY!@%!%@#%

God. I have serious, serious angst when it comes to MySpace. That site just needs to DIE already.
posted by fet at 8:19 PM on April 24, 2006


I finally got so fed up with it...

If it makes you feel better, I'm one fellow who does the opposite: I use MySpace to store images that I use on Blogger.
posted by cribcage at 8:31 PM on April 24, 2006


Never thought of that. Is it any easier than, say, Flickr or something?
posted by brundlefly at 8:35 PM on April 24, 2006


They did this with Napster when I was at NYU in 1999; it was still blocked when I graduated. I remember them saying at the time that Napster was taking up something like 30% of the entire university's internet resources.

Didn't it say somewhere that BitTorrent is like a third of all internet traffic now?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:40 PM on April 24, 2006


MySpace is a sign of the end times. And let's not even discuss "Tom." "Tom" is not my "friend." "Tom" is not anyone's "friend." "Tom" is the enemy. "Tom" insinuates and beguiles; he crashes on your couch, eats all your junk food, drinks all your beer, and sleeps with your girlfriend. "Tom" is also, I suspect, a minion of Nyarlathotep. In short, "Tom" is just no damn good. I envision a glorious People's Revolution in which "Tom's" "friends," in a rare moment of lucidity free from the subliminal effects of thousands of GIFs animating in unison, will realize their enslavement to "Tom's" wicked ends and will proceed to dispatch "Tom" in a an expeditious manner.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 8:41 PM on April 24, 2006


Is it any easier than, say, Flickr or something?

I don't know how to deep-link from Flickr. My understanding is that Flickr's format prevents it — or rather, that Flickr's format includes sufficient blocks to defeat my less-than-elite hacking skillz.

Also, I like Flickr. I'd rather abuse MySpace.
posted by cribcage at 8:44 PM on April 24, 2006



From Flickr. They provide you with an URL. Am I less elite than you in that I don't realize you're looking for something else?

I use it for my image hosting, generally.

/hoping not to make an ass out of myself

That's a condom machine, in case you couldn't tell.
posted by brundlefly at 9:01 PM on April 24, 2006


How will this school know when the next attack plot is being formed against them?
posted by shnoz-gobblin at 9:04 PM on April 24, 2006


Am I less elite than you...?

No. You are vastly more l33t than me. I only got as far as:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/70298402@N00/60271994/

...which, obviously, loads the whole page.

They provide you with an URL.

Cool. Where should I be looking? I don't see it.
posted by cribcage at 9:07 PM on April 24, 2006


proxy servers? a scientific approach to myspace's awesomeness made its way around the blogosphere yesterday. also add me myspace.com/faketommadebyadog
posted by psychobum at 9:10 PM on April 24, 2006


MySpace? I thought all the college kids used Facebook.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:10 PM on April 24, 2006


cribcage: Click on the "All sizes" link over the picture. Pick your size, then scroll down. There'll be a link in a text field.

Afroblanco: I think the band presence is what carries MySpace. Plus a lot of these kids starting using MySpace in high school and just kept on using it. An influx of MySpace-using freshmen, you know.

Also, the list of included colleges in Facebook is not comprehensive, is it? I remember trying to register when I was at UNO, and it was not included. Would a Texas community college be? Things may have changed considerably since then, of course.
posted by brundlefly at 9:29 PM on April 24, 2006


Cool. Thanks.
posted by cribcage at 9:46 PM on April 24, 2006


I'm 52 and hate myspace. But you all sound REALLY old... and tired. Sure, myspace sucks, but schools shouldn't selectively ban web sites. All the other examples of banning (FTP, Napster) aren't content specific. This ban reeks of a stick-up-the-ass IT staff and school administrators who are still figuring out e-mail.

If the ban myspace today, what will they ban tomorrow for ... oh... I don't know.. technical reasons?
posted by cccorlew at 9:55 PM on April 24, 2006


I understand where you're coming from, cccorlew. It is an odd precedent. But does that stand even when access to one site actually hampers the educational uses of the internet? It's not like they're blocking MySpace because it's "sinful" or "subversive" or something.
posted by brundlefly at 9:59 PM on April 24, 2006


Agreed cccorlew. If it's just a bandwidth issue, can't you just throttle MySpace requests instead of outright banning them? My firewall-fu is weak, but is it really that hard to set up a rule that says MySpace: 28.8k, RestOfInternet: T1?

Oh, and I wish I owned MySpace.
posted by moonbiter at 10:43 PM on April 24, 2006


My firewall-fu is extremely weak, but if that's possible, that is a much better solution.
posted by brundlefly at 10:49 PM on April 24, 2006


MySpace is the Trojan Horse of Internet Censorship
posted by odinsdream at 11:53 PM on April 24, 2006


I had a look at myspace and just thought, whats the point? I came across the site whilst searching for something I'd written on mefi. Lo and behold, the myspace davehat's profile popped up. In it, he has listed the following under the title "favourite books":

fuck a bag of books

And, he's got a photo of himself pointing a gun. I think he's the anti-me.

*Reads the onisdream's link*

Fuck, the Murdoch bought myspace? Isn't that a bit like Bush buying an abortion clinic?
posted by davehat at 12:39 AM on April 25, 2006


As a disclaimer and background of sorts, I'm an IT Security Manager for a 16k-student University. I'm on a mailing list of people in similar positions. Let's just say, we're all having a good laugh about the Del Mar Community College's decision.

Generally speaking, I'd have no issues with restricting access to computers in Libraries to academic purposes (which, if you rtfa, is what's happening), but doing something like this for residential networks would be silly.

There are swags of ways that this could be avoided.. configure Squid to rate limit traffic to myspace.com, use Packeteer/Allot devices for limiting each web session to a certain percentage of bandwidth, etc.

If they had blocked sites like Livejournal, Metafilter, etc as well, they could have turned it into a non-story - no-one cares if you restrict access to a class of sites from a University library. But since it's to one popular site, it's a news story.

As a few people have said on our mailing list, I'm glad I'm not the guy telling the national media that our network can't handle a bit of web browsing.
posted by theducks at 1:51 AM on April 25, 2006


MySpace is the Trojan Horse of Internet Censorship

Can we maybe get a non-Alex Jones link for that theory? I have a severe nut allergy.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 4:18 AM on April 25, 2006


Apple's retail stores are also apparently blocking MySpace for the same reasons -- excessive bandwidth use generated from that single site.
posted by mcwetboy at 5:27 AM on April 25, 2006


The band pages on myspace (and every one has one) are invariably easier to navigate than the band's actual homepages.

Just think about that.
posted by smackfu at 6:33 AM on April 25, 2006


God forbid the school actually use MySpace to communicate with its students. That would be much more difficult!
posted by VulcanMike at 7:18 AM on April 25, 2006


Also, God forbid the host uses its parasite to regulate its biological functions.
posted by jon_kill at 8:04 AM on April 25, 2006


maybe DelMar should build a page like this one

*snicker*
posted by matteo at 8:39 AM on April 25, 2006


"We pay for school and the resources that are used," said Zeke Santos, 20.

My community college has nice music practice rooms. They are quiet and you can turn off the lights. But they won't let me use one to catch up on sleep or for a romantic interlude. In this way I could care less about blocking network access to myspace. The real issue is a shortage of computers available for students trying to do school work. An acceptable use policy should be created and inforced to give students an opportunity to use school resources for schoolwork first.

Among other things, community colleges function as daycare for members of our society that lack the motivation to find work or build the academic discipline required to attend a four-year institution. There is no shortage of under-stimulated bodies passing time with any diversion available to them.

At my community college, between the peak hours of 10am and 3pm, I have observed eight out of ten computers in the library are being used for things that are definitely not related to academics (games, myspace, IM, or catalog "shopping"). Another ten percent is used for email (academic or personal). The last ten percent are being used to write papers or search journal articles. During these times are as many students waiting to use a computer as there are computers in the lab. [But this is no indictment of community college students, I assume these usage ratios are the same in most workplace environments.]
posted by peeedro at 11:45 AM on April 25, 2006


Aw, man. Totally bringing up memories of getting busy in the music department practice rooms. Damn you!
posted by sourwookie at 11:51 AM on April 25, 2006


cccorlew wrote: Sure, myspace sucks, but schools shouldn't selectively ban web sites. All the other examples of banning (FTP, Napster) aren't content specific. This ban reeks of a stick-up-the-ass IT staff and school administrators who are still figuring out e-mail.

Yeah, that's it. Email. Can't figure that shit out. Do you masturbate to the covers of O'Reilly books or something?

And theducks wrote: As a few people have said on our mailing list, I'm glad I'm not the guy telling the national media that our network can't handle a bit of web browsing.

It's not just the bandwidth. It's a whole host of issues.

The school I work for is an accelerated schedule tech/trade school - it is by no means a college, and bears as much resemblance to a university as a small non-descript rock does. We have limited funds, limited but concentrated classroom time and limited bandwidth.

Sure, we could easily traffic-shape MySpace requests. But then students would just take longer waiting for embedded-media-drenched pages to load. In class. Where they need to be doing coursework and research.

Our students do not own their school-issued laptops until they graduate. They sign a strict service contract governing the use of the school's computers and resources.

It was easier (and kinder) to block MySpace and a handful of other sites then it was to have to try to deal with all of these in-class service contract violations on a discplinary case-by-case basis.

You may find this not-fun or joyless. But this isn't college. There are no dorms. There's no keg parties.

And our particular students need this discipline, as they're often from disadvantaged backgrounds, and lacking in self-discipline.

And you know what? It works, and they thank us for it. They thank us for our small class sizes and our focus and dedication on actually providing them with an education.

And despite it all we still have fun. And regardless of the fact they don't technically own their laptops, they're still allowed to take them home and do whatever they want on them on the ISP or WiFi hotspot of their choice on their own time.
posted by loquacious at 12:09 PM on April 25, 2006


VulcanMike says, "God forbid the school actually use MySpace to communicate with its students. "

Yes, that would be nice. God, manifesting himself physically, searing away the unbelievers, burning away the impure, and straight up forbidding this school, or indeed any school from using MySpace to communicate with its students. "Why stop there?", I imagine him saying, forbidding any use of MySpace by any school, organization or entity capable of communicating in any fashion whatsoever. From lackwitted college students to plants that reflect interestingly on far-red wavelengths, all would be denied such usage.

Honestly, what. Sneering that a school isn't using myspace to communicate with its students implies that myspace is a useful tool for doing so. It is not. MySpace does not encourage meaningful communication, let alone facilitate transferrence of academically signifigant information. It is a tool for manifesting stupidity in electronic form; for retarding the full expression of the human experience; for further dulling the minds and souls of those who use it regularly. I can't even think straight after reading what you wrote. I'm going to curl up under my desk for a while now.
posted by boo_radley at 12:45 PM on April 25, 2006


But you can find so many things. It really is a place where you can just click on links all day, and always find something new.
posted by Paris Hilton


Kind of like the internet?

Honestly, I can't think of a worse site to "click through". It's bad pictures and awful poetry. If the youth of the world clicks through myspace to find something new, I weep for our youth.
posted by justgary at 1:51 PM on April 25, 2006


What a great way to silence a critic: bring him into the fold.
posted by boo_radley at 6:51 PM on April 25, 2006


Funny, smackfu, I've had the opposite experience with band pages on MySpace. I've booked a few shows over the past few years, and it seems like since last year, all small bands have switched over to MySpace-only webpages. Thing is, most real band websites conveniently consist of a main page with links to mp3s, contact info, etc. I've yet to find a band MySpace page with contact info [accessible to non-members, at least.] Most bands rely on that stupid music widget and don't have mp3s up - no good for the way I listen to music when working on booking bands. Lists of upcoming shows might be under 'blogs' or on the main page or in comments or god only knows where. And actual look of the pages - dear god, a cluttered mess of mind-numbingly idiotic comments, links to 'MySpace blogs' which are often not used or misused, lists of 'friends' with dumb userpics... Sure, bands tend to have unecessarily obfuscated webpages, but I've never encountered a band with a webpage as hideous or unusable as a MySpace page.
posted by ubersturm at 8:10 PM on April 25, 2006


boo_radley wrote "Sneering that a school isn't using myspace to communicate with its students implies that myspace is a useful tool for doing so. It is not. MySpace does not encourage meaningful communication, let alone facilitate transferrence of academically signifigant information."

Either you don't use MySpace, you and your friends aren't in the target audience or you simply don't get it. As implied above, MySpace is one of the stickiest sites on the Internet and has over 70 million users, which is why it was acquired by News Corp. For the youth market, it's the third major two-communication revolution to come on the Internet after e-mail and instant messaging.

I see over 2,500 current Del Mar students and over 700 alumni listed on MySpace. As a school with no on-campus housing, they especially need effective ways to communicate with their students and keep them involved with the community.

For them, and for other organizations, the "Bulletin" feature alone is of great value -- it allows passive but direct communication with all members on one's friend list, much like RSS but in a form that many more people are actually using. It is the exact medium appropriate for the sorts of announcements a campus community needs to make -- it's more direct than posting information on a website and hoping people will visit and more passive than email, where many announcements create too much noise.

All it would take is making something available exclusively through MySpace -- such as the early/first announcement of performers at a popular campus event -- and you've instantly drawn in your target audience. I couldn't find any case studies on Coachella's use of MySpace for promotion this year, but that's exactly how they got 40,000 people to opt in to their bulletin posts and virally promote the event through the addition to friend lists.

Clever IT administrators would find a way to block the multimedia content on MySpace, just like this handy Firefox Greasemonkey script does. I'd think it would be hard to attract technology and communications students to Del Mar when they clearly don't get online communication.
posted by VulcanMike at 7:22 PM on April 26, 2006


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